White Hat vs Black Hat Social Media Marketing – And What Would Be Best for You

You must have heard of Black Hat and While Hat SEO. They are classified as the worst and best practices for search engine marketing, given by search engines. Similarly, Black Hat and White Hat social media marketing refer to the worst and best practices, suggested by the social networking sites.  Brandon Uttley of Social Fresh summarizes it as “any techniques that are essentially designed to game the system. It typically means going against the terms of service or accepted ‘best practices’ of a network.” Let’s carry it forward with a simple situation. You have planned to start your social media marketing. Instead of growing the visibility organically, you choose the easy path of paying your audience and amplify the reach in shortcuts. This is one of the black hat practices for social media.  If you are now confused between paid advertisement and black hat social media techniques, let’s categorically see what ‘s there in the latter: 

  • Paying people to make an action on your social media content
  • Creating fake social media accounts to show better reach of your content
  • Hiring click farms
  • Leaving bad comments and reviews on your client’s pages and positive reviews on your own pages
  • Using programs to follow and unfollow automatically
  • Posting malicious hyperlinks 
  • Securing social URLs with your competitors’ names

 So, you have seen that black hat social media has nothing to do with paid promotions. It’s basically a shortcut to achieve the goal. And like every shortcut, it involves risks as well as rewards. Reward is, you will attain your goals faster. And the risk is, penalization by Google and other search engines.  Yes, you thought it right, the techniques you are applying on your social media marketing have direct impact on your search engine ranking. This is important, because it’s that one area that every business wants to excel in.  

How black hat SMM affects your search engine ranking:

 Let’s see Matt Cutts’ video first: 

“Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our web index so if something occurs on Twitter or occurs on Facebook and we’re able to crawl it, then we can return that in our search results.” He confirmed, “but as far as doing special specific work to sort of say “you have this many followers on Twitter or this many likes on Facebook”, to the best of my knowledge we don’t currently have any signals like that in our web search ranking algorithms.” Even if Matt Cutts confirmed that Google does not consider social signals in its algorithm, but there is a definite relation between social media and search engine authority.  Accordingly to Shareaholic, social signals and referrals form more than 30% traffic for websites. There are a number of companies that are working rigorously to prove a co-relation between social footprints and Google ranking. One such experiment was done by Moz.  

 The study was meant to throw some highlights on the possible social factors that have an impact on search ranking. Facebook shares top the list, followed by Likes, comments, RTs. Similar study is done by QuickSprout and they too found similar results.

 The reason behind Google’s frequent algorithmic changes is to cut off spams as much as possible from the web searches. This is the reason that Google punished big brands like eBay and Expedia for practicing black hat techniques.  When it comes to paying individuals to Like, Share, +1 your social media content, it may show some increase in your social authority, but at the end of the day, the number does not matter if it does not make any change to your business.  Should you manipulative social media reviews?  This is a big concern for this-age marketers. Social media reviews can be bought. They can be manipulated in favor or against your business. Now the question remains, should you be involved in such black hat practices? The obvious answer would be “No”. Let’s now see why! Again it’s Google! It monitors your web activities 24*7. If you are being manipulative with online reviews, the big daddy of searches will take no time to take them down. Let’s assume that you have bought 5k views on your latest YouTube video. If Google figures this out, it would immediately stop you there. This is possible for Google, as it keeps tracking online behavior and visit trends to understand if people who click on a content actually go through it.  Now comes the most vital question. What way is the best way for you?  Black hat social media marketing, even if it can make you achieve your goals easily, is a no-brainer. The simple reason is, it cannot help your business in the long run, just like black hat SEO techniques.  You may buy fans and followers but they will not last for long, because they are not interested in your business. You only waste your money to acquire them. Instead, if you would have invested the resources in developing some real followers and on a concrete marketing plan, it could have returned you greater benefits in future.  The best way to remain within the white hat periphery is, follow the rules that each network wants you to abide by. For example, Pinterest contests are very popular these days. But they can be little tricky to handle. If you don’t follow the rules, you can land yourself in a big trouble, just like Cole Haan.   

 Even if you are not punished for such practices initially, once the network finds it, they might take action by either penalizing the page or the campaign.  Conclusion: You need to remember that black hat social media marketing is different from paid advertising. Black hat techniques are those what moves things faster but not in an ethical way. Stay away from them and work on your content. Your social media friendliness will automatically boost.